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Snowball Earth Paperback – April 5, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'An engrossing book on the emergence of a stunning new account of events on our primordial planet ... fascinating' Sunday Telegraph 'Riveting in its vivid portrayal of the great icy catastrophes which may have gripped our planet ... both the geological and the human story are brilliantly told' Oliver Sacks 'This is a story worth telling ... Walker is an ideal person to tell it ... Racy and pacey, with a focus on the people involved ... A very entertaining read' Independent 'She takes a cold topic, and creates a warm, readable story' Ireland on Sunday

About the Author

GABRIELLE WALKER is a features editor for New Scientist and has also written for The Economist and a host of other publications. She lives in London.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (April 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747568502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747568506
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,726,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Who among us is not interested in the history of our own blue-white planet and the origin of life, even if it is only through creation myths?

Author, Gabrielle Walker earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at Cambridge University and spent seven years as a features editor at "New Scientist." The latter experience definitely had a hand in molding her breezy, yet clear and conscientious style. She follows her intrepid geologists to the ends of the Earth like an eager cub reporter in some 1930s B-movie, peppering them with questions, almost getting trampled by an African elephant in the Namibian bush, beset by freezing fog in the Kalahari Desert, clambering down the windswept, godforsaken rocks of Mistaken Point in Newfoundland.

This book is a combination travel guide to some of the least habitable places on earth, biographical sketches of the scientists who developed and tested the 'Snowball Earth' theory, and an introduction to the painstaking science behind the newest, most audacious 'deep time' history of our planet.

Before we get to 'Snowball Earth,' let me give you a flavor of Walker's running travelogue. Here she is speaking of Mistaken Point: "Nobody could love these barren lands, not even their mother. They are dreary and damp, their plants the color of overcooked spinach and rusty nails; when the wind is not buffeting them or rain beating them down, they are shrouded in fog. The pale, thin caribou wander over them like lost souls."

Now, on to the theory as expounded by this book. Several times in the history of Earth, most recently 700 million years ago, our plant froze completely over, possibly because all of the continents had migrated close to the Equator.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book to support my studies of the snowball earth hypothesis. Students are always being told to read more, and whilst I've read 10 of the core published papers on this theory I found this book very helpful to actually understanding the theory from an alternative perspective. Its pretty easy going, with lots of interesting background but it does stimulating thinking about the hard science evidences.

I'd strongly recommend reading the book if you've got to study this theory, or even as an interesting read if you're into earth systems science (in which case Thin Ice, Ice Mud and Blood or Rare Earth are other good books to look at).
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wulf Barnim on November 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mrs. Walker is clearly a journalist and not a scientist. Her interest lies in people and not in scientific theory. I found that rather a let-down, as I was hoping to gain knowledge and not be entertained by tittle tattle. Overall, a well written gossip about people with a fascinating idea. Too bad, that the reader is only given rather superficial information, about what this idea entails. Disappointing.
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